The Shape of Us Book Review

The Shape of Us book review

What is this about?: Four wonderful women who find strength in each other to get through some troubling times in their lives.

What else is this about?: Break-ups, marriages and kids. And how each woman deals with them.

Stars: 3


Four different women. The same big problem. One magical solution? 

Despite excelling at university, Mezz has ended up the second-choice doctor in a two-doctor town, and won’t be winning Mother of the Year any time soon. Miserably overweight, she knows it’s only a matter of time until her gorgeous husband starts to stray…

Jewels runs a successful business and lives in her dream house. All she needs to make life complete is a baby. She’ll do anything to lose weight and become a mother… just as soon as the Tim Tams are finished.

Ellie’s life looks perfect on Facebook. But unlike the sunny snapshots, her world in Canberra is dull: she left everything behind in London, and the woman she sacrificed her life for is hardly ever home. Her ever-increasing waistline is testimony to just how small Ellie’s life has become.

Kat’s baby is her world. As a Bosnian refugee, she wants nothing more than a stable, happy life for Ami, but Kat’s relationship with Ami’s dad is collapsing. If she could just lose the ‘baby weight’ maybe Josh would look at her the way he used to.

When Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kat meet in an online weight-loss forum, a common goal accelerates their friendship. As the kilos start to disappear but their problems don’t, they begin to realise that weight-loss might not be the key to happiness, but that supporting and believing in the ones you love, and yourself, just might be …

The Shape of Us is a book I am quite torn about. On the one hand, it does deal with weight issues and insecurities that aren’t often dealt with in literature, but on the other it doesn’t go far enough.

The Biggest Loser

You all know the show right? The one where everyone loses weight? This season in Australia, the show has a contestant on who weighs 78kgs, which is about 12 kgs heavier than me and around the normal size for the average Australian woman. But she’s on The Biggest Loser, and this caused a bit of a fuss, and rightly so. The show’s counter was that she needed a body and mind transformation, and I agree that in this case, the woman needed a body and mind change. It’s a pity the show didn’t realise it sooner, rebranded and became something else entirely.

That’s where these women begin – they’re all part of a weightloss program, where they meet on the online forum and break away to form their own group online. They share everything, they’re each other’s confidants when shit hits the fan in their lives, or they just want to whinge. They’re a wonderful support system I wish the universe decided was a rule all women should have.

The book begins to take us into their lives, exploring where their issues stem from, and showing they have other things going on in their lives that need to be dealt with.

But it’s not enough

Given the cast of characters, and the important issues being dealt with I wanted a more indepth look at these women’s lives (I say that alot about books like this don’t I?). It relied on their conversations for readers to understand the problems in their lives more than showing us their situations enough. I think perhaps the cast of characters was too big for this scenario (note, there are 3 women on the cover, and four in the book). As a result, it did the characters a disservice, making make them seem flimsy, rather than the women I hoped they’d be.

And there’s another BUT

I think generally, I found this read uneven because the author does indeed show that these are complicated women, but man, I wanted more. These are complicated women, who won’t always agree with each other and will fight and argue, which in turn brought a much needed depth to their characters. That accompanied by the ending, where secondary characters were afforded a more complicated motivation for their place in the narrative, was a little too late for me. I needed more consistent characterisation and better focus on these women and their lives for this to be more than a 3-star read.


  • Silvia says:

    I know that TV show, but I never watched it, I think I saw just a few minutes of an episode. However, the point is that I get what you mean and I think this book might leave me with your same feeling :-/

    • Verushka says:

      These women’s stories were all good, you know? The kind you’d want to read about BUT there just wasn’t enough of the good parts of them.

  • Angela says:

    I like books that focus on a group of women, but like you said, sometimes that makes for just too many characters and not enough story time for any of them. I like the idea of this one, with the focus on weight loss; it’s too bad it didn’t dig deep enough!

  • While the issues and the plot devices sound relevant and inspired I just don’t think this one is for me, especially when the characters are built through mostly dialogue alone 🙁

    I’m sorry this one couldn’t do better than three stars for you!

    • Verushka says:

      Yeah 🙁 The dialogue and the telling were depressingly … sad because there was so much goodness here and it didn’t go anywhere *wails* This was a 4 star book if it had got things right.

  • Goodness, this sounds like quite the busy book. There is so much going on! I don’t think this one would be for me, sadly. I’d probably get lost or confused and stop reading. :O I’m glad you enjoyed some aspects of the story though! Great review, Verushka!

    Have a lovely weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • What a bummer that this didn’t go into enough depth on these women to satisfy your need as a reader. I think that would bother me as well. I’m not a big fan of the superficial and always want more depth when it comes to characterization.

  • It has a really interesting premise. And I do like books that focus on friendships. I’m sorry it left you wanting a bit MORE though.

    • Verushka says:

      It hink it had all the elements of something utterly brilliant, but never quite reached it int he end. Sadly. SOBS

  • I agree that this is a topic that could have had so much depth! So I don’t blame you for wanting more!

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